German artist Hans-Peter Feldman won last year and he literally wallpapered the entire gallery with the cash. At first I thought, "what kind of a lazy, vulgar stunt is this?" but I later realized how clever and how telling his message was.
I mean, art can sell for such ostentatiously high prices that it becomes hard to see anything but it's price tag. In December's issue of Newsweek, Blake Gopnik said: "When your looking for great art, you may spot it by it's price tag". Like most, he's clearly bewildered by the dazzling sheen of the art world in the pallored face of today's flat lined economy.
But art can function as an altar for our future hopes and be a meditation on the past. And it can explore the complexities of human experience in a profound way. Knowing it can be as meaningful and deep as the roots of an ancient Oak, helps contextualize its value.
His photographs and installations often examine black identity and his work even coined a new vocab term.
"Post-black" now refers to art where race and racism are prominent, but where the importance of their interaction is diminished. I like this Johnson quote:
"I was very proud when Barack got the nomination ...
But I wasn’t proud for black people—I was kind of proud for white people."
In April 2012, he's presenting new work, along with a survey of work from the past 10 years at MOCA Chicago. This will be his first major museum solo exhibition, and this Hugo Boss nomination kind of makes him the man of the hour. Who knows what those price tags will start looking like soon enough?!
Rashid Johnson, mirrored work at Miami Basel 2011
Rashid Johnson, work on wood
For a look at how debilitatingly cute Rashid Johnson is (and to watch him at work and discussing his creative process) check out these clips by "New York Close Up Art21"